As usual, here are my top 3 takeaways from the past week:

1. Enjoy yourself but don’t eat the life of your head — literally.

2. Politics is a game of numbers.

3. The Doyenne at 58!

1. Enjoy yourself but don’t eat the life of your head — literally.

Ma j’aiye ori mi is a Yoruba slang that is literally and loosely translated as “I will eat the life of my head” 😲 Sounds extreme? I know! But that’s the literal translation. Figuratively, it means enjoying oneself to the fullest.

A few weeks ago, the Ekiti State Ministry of Health and Human Services (also called Ulera Ekiti) organised a non-communicable disease screening for staff of the State Ministry of Justice (EKSMOJ). This screening was requested by the Attorney General of the EKSMOJ following the hospitalisation of some staff members who suffered strokes. The Ulera team who were deployed for this exercise screened for Hypertension, Diabetes and also Obesity which is a major predisposing factor of the aforementioned diseases.

Data collected from this screening showed a high prevalence of Hypertension among the staff. And a number of them were also pre-diabetic. Some staff who were hypertensive were not aware of the condition prior to the screening and those who were aware were not adequately managing the condition.

In Sub Saharan Africa, where communicable diseases remain a challenge, NCDs are at an alarmingly increasing rate, affecting more people who are in their economically productive years and leading to a twin burden of disease. As stated by the UNDP, NCDs diminish the quality and quantity of the workforce, reducing productive employment and economic growth. Absenteeism due to ill-health, reduced performance, and premature deaths amongst the workforce create these major losses.

To prevent NCDs, lifestyle modification is very key. If an NCD is diagnosed, it is important to know that most NCDs cannot be permanently treated but they can be adequately managed so that the individual still lives a full and productive life. Enjoy yourself but don’t eat the life off your head — pun intended.

2. Politics is a game of numbers.

Last week, I received delegates from my constituency. As the Ekiti State gubernatorial elections draw closer, political parties are beginning to mobilise towards ensuring that candidates of choice are successful at the polls. Incumbent Public Servants like me have increasingly become persons of interest regardless of whether we’re vying for a position or not. You may wonder, shouldn’t competency be the ultimate determinant of political victory? Of course, it should. In theory, it should. But skills don’t cast votes. Social media likes and shares don’t cast votes. PR does its job but ultimately, it is humans who go to the polls and vote.

I see a lot of young Nigerians are increasingly getting interested in politics and leadership for obvious reasons. However, it is important to remember that politics is a game of numbers. Beyond the Ekiti State elections coming up in June 2022, we have a bigger election coming in 2023. It may seem far away, but it is actually right around the corner. I urge Nigerian youths to strategically begin mobilising and organising. Wishing, agitating and even protesting for good governance is only at best, 30% of the work that needs to be done. A candidate may be the most qualified for office but if he/she does not have the numbers, they cannot win an election. it is what it is. To win elections, you need to win people. To win people, you need to identify where the numbers are and get them on your side. Most importantly, thoughtfully articulating the “ASKS” is pivotal to positioning the ideal candidate for office. Election campaigns can be a soiree for lofty and ear soothing promises. However, Nigerian youths need to decide on what’s most important for the future that they want. An aspiring candidate could promise excellent roads and state-of-the-art schools but without security, those roads may not be pliable and students cannot go to school freely without fear of harm. It is high time we made the most important and sustainable aspects of development the criteria for selecting our leaders. My top 3 would be:

1. Providing quality healthcare coverage through sustainable financing.

2. Enforcing education whilst ensuring quality and access and

3. Creating an enabling environment for technology and commerce to thrive.

I believe these three “ASKS” will address most of the challenges we are facing as a country. But the question is, are we ready to do the work of mobilising, organising, properly articulating our ASKS and demanding accountability? Borrowing a leaf from Steve Harvey I would say; the dream for good governance is free but the hustle for it is sold separately.

3. The Doyenne at 58!

Last week Thursday, The First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi turned 58. Reading most of the felicitations that were publicly sent to her, one thing was recurrent, the fact that the First Lady has so far led a life of impact. Erelu Bisi Fayemi is a feminist, activist, writer, policy advocate and also a UN Women Senior Advisor. All of my personal interactions with her have been inspiring to say the least. I admire and share in her zeal to see women equitably represented in governance and corporate organisations. Erelu Bisi Fayemi personally spearheaded the campaign for the enactment of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill in the State and has continued to pursue causes that foster equality and inclusion. Beyond her work, she is a wife, mother and a genuinely warm mentor. She is a great example to so many and I celebrate her.

Health Systems Reforms and Health Financing Expert